As a finance major B.J. Symons is adept at analyzing columns of
huge numbers. As a quarterback he's equally accomplished at
producing them. Symons, a fifth-year Texas Tech senior, opened
the season by passing for 297 yards and three touchdowns against
SMU, and that was just a warmup. Symons (pronounced SIM-ons) has
thrown for at least 400 yards in each of the six games since then
and has surpassed 500 four times, including a 661-yard
bombardment of Mississippi.
After throwing for 552 yards and five TDs in a 51-49 loss to
Oklahoma State last Saturday, Symons had 3,506 passing yards (as
well as 32 TDs and eight interceptions), putting him on pace to
shatter Ty Detmer's NCAA single-season record of 5,188. "I'm sure
no one expected a guy who's been sitting for so long to start
putting up big numbers, but I can't say I'm surprised," says
Symons, who'd never started before this season. "With our talent
and our system, there's no reason why we shouldn't have those
kinds of numbers."
There are those who believe the system deserves top billing.
Coach Mike Leach, a passing game architect who worked with Tim
Couch as a Kentucky assistant, runs a spread offense featuring
four receivers and one back, and they all get plenty of action.
Symons averages 56.7 attempts a game. "With their offensive
philosophy, if the quarterback doesn't put up huge numbers,
something's wrong," says one NFC scout. "Symons is a good,
accurate passer, but he's a little small [6'1"]. He's a prospect,
but teams aren't going to be blinded by his numbers."
Symons also isn't the bombs-away passer the numbers suggest;
Texas Tech (5-2) probably throws more screens and shovel passes
than any other team in the country. But Leach bristles at the
notion that the system is the star. "You can't just get somebody
from the 7-Eleven and plug him in at quarterback," he says.
Symons is more bothered by the slighting of his teammates. "I've
seen [wideout] Wes Welker take five-yard passes and turn them
into 15-yard touchdowns because he makes three guys miss," he
says. "The system doesn't do that. Individual talent does."
Symons isn't fazed by his new fame. "I'm just glad to finally get
my chance to play," he says. "It's so good to be on the field
that I can hardly put it into words." He's much better at putting
it into numbers. --Phil Taylor
COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY (SYMONS) System product or not, Symons' numbers would be coveted by anyquarterback.